(Not so much a series of teachings as much as a series of personal reflections on Bible passages that God has used to stir my heart regarding this important matter of faith amidst the challenges He has led me through. See part 3.)
I don't know about you, but I'm easily inclined to view Jesus' rebukes to His disciples for their lack of faith as being applicable to me. Jesus says numerous times to them, "You of little faith" and in Luke 9:41, "You unbelieving and perverted generation!" That's a strong rebuke, and if it's true of Jesus' first disciples (to whom it was addressed), it must be even more true of me! For that reason, I tend to take those rebukes to heart and can end up feeling discouraged by the little faith that I have.
But I don't believe that was Jesus' intent. I've noticed something else about the two stories that surround the rebuke in Luke 9:41 -- stories that are about Jesus' disciples going out and doing miracles in Jesus' name. Luke 9:1-6 speaks of the twelve going out, and says they were "preaching the Gospel and healing everywhere" (9:6). And Luke 10:1-24 speaks of the seventy going out to "heal the sick" (10:9) and of how they "returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name'" (10:17).
Now I think that is what Jesus wants me to be mindful of when reading these chapters in Luke. Yes, I need to grow in faith -- yes, Jesus wants me free of unbelief -- but Jesus also wants me to realize how much can be accomplished by disciples who have only a little faith! When He said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation" to His disciples, Jesus didn't intend to leave His disciples discouraged over how unbelieving they were. He was expressing a heartfelt burden for them to grow in faith, and it wasn't long before He sent them out a second time ready to do miracles in His name.
What this tells me is that, yes, there will be times when I encounter situations beyond my present level of faith, but that shouldn't leave me discouraged. Because God can take someone without faith for some situations to do miracles in others! That's why I can't allow myself to become so fixated on my limited faith that I'm paralyzed with a fear of failure or of disappointment. These chapters in Luke tell me that God can still use those who sometimes struggle in faith, and can even use such people -- like me -- to do miracles in His name!
© 2009 by Ken Peters